El Salvador: Labour group reports forced overtime, filthy drinking water, poverty wages at Ocean Sky factory supplying major brands
In January 2011, the National Labor Committee, a US-based NGO, issued a report on working conditions at the Ocean Sky factory in El Salvador, naming Columbia Sportswear, NFL, Old Navy (part of Gap), Penguin (part of Perry Ellis), Puma, Reebok (part of Adidas) and Talbots as buyers.
According to the report, "The 1,500 mostly women workers at Ocean Sky are locked in a Free Zone, surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by guards armed with shotguns...Workers report being drenched in their own sweat, since afternoon factory temperatures reach 98 degrees Fahrenheit...Factory drinking water is filthy and contaminated with fecal coli which can cause diarrhea, intestinal illness and infections. Six workers were fired for daring to alert their colleagues that the factory water was unsafe to drink...Illegally, all overtime is mandatory...Workers earn a base wage of 72 cents an hour, and 92 cents counting the attendance bonus...Even the Salvadoran Ministry of the Economy puts the workers' wages at one-quarter of a family's basic needs."
National Labor Committee:
- "Ocean Sky: Workers Paid 8 Cents for Each $25 NFL T-shirt They Sew", 24 Jan 2011
- full report
- "Ocean Sky Update", 29 Jan 2011
See also: "Sweatshop claims hit Adidas and Puma", Local [Germany], 29 Jan 2011
28 March 2011 - Responding to the NLC report, Fair Labor Association (FLA) releassed the final report investigating Ocean Sky Apparel. The report includes four parts:
- Summary Report [PDF] (tambien disponible en español [PDF])
- Full report [PDF] of an investigation organized by FLA and carried out by COVERCO (tambien disponible en español [PDF])
- Water testing report [PDF] (tambien disponible en español [PDF])
- Remediation plan [PDF] submitted to FLA (tambien disponible en español [PDF])
The final report followed the FLA's interim report released on 10 March.
All FLA reports are available here.
Following the release of the January report by the National Labor Committtee, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies named in the report to respond. The responses appear below:
- adidas/Reebok response [DOC]
- Columbia Sportswear response [PDF]
- NFL stated, "We have asked Reebok to look into the matter. Reebok said it was looking into the matter and would address it appropriately."
- Penguin/Perry Ellis response [PDF]